An Iranian warship accidentally fired an anti-ship cruise missile at another Iranian naval vessel on Monday, sinking it and killing at least one sailor and possibly dozens, local media reports said.
Reports said that the Jamaran frigate accidentally fired on the Konarak, a support vessel during an exercise in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran’s Fars news agency confirmed an incident on the Konark and said one person was killed and several sailors were injured, according to the Reuters news agency. It gave no further details.
However, local reports said that up to 40 sailors were dead and several more wounded.
#Iran;s Jamaran frigate has “accidentally” shot own Konarak frigate in the Persian Gulf.
Reports claiming 23 dead out of 40 crew members#IRGC termed it human error due to incorrect maneuveur during a training exercise
Konarak was recently added to #Iranian Navy pic.twitter.com/H1tLRme0hd
— Farzana Shah (@Jana_Shah) May 10, 2020
Videos posted on social media purported to show injured sailors being rescued and taken for treatment.
The friendly fire incident happened Sunday near the port of Jask, some 1,270 kilometers (790 miles) southeast of Tehran on the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported Monday.
The missile struck the Konarak, a Hendijan-class support ship, taking part in the exercise.
State television described the missile strike as an accident, saying the Konarak had remained too close to the target. The Konarak had been putting targets out in the water for other ships to fire upon, it said.
Iran regularly holds exercises in the region, which is closed to the strategic Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes.
The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which monitors the region, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Iranian media said the Konarak had been overhauled in 2018 and was able to launch sea missiles. The Dutch-made, 47-meter (155-foot) vessel was in service since 1988 and had capacity of 40 tons. It usually carries a crew of 20 sailors.
The incident comes amid continued tensions in the area.
Last month US President Donald Trump said he had ordered the US military to attack and destroy any Iranian vessel that harasses US Navy ships.
The order came one week after 11 small armed Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps speedboats swarmed around US Navy and Coast Guard ships in international waters in the northern Gulf.
Original: TOI Staff and AGENCIES